**The above pictured is actually the larva of a Giant Leopard Moth / Eyed Tiger Moth - Hypercompe scribonia - which is in the same family of moths (Arctiidae) than the Isabella Tiger Moth described below…

Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar (of the Isabella Tiger Moth) - Pyrrharctia isabella - early instar stages exhibit mostly black coloration with an orange band developing larger for each subsequent molt.  During the final larval stage, the caterpillar will typically appear all orange with no black remaining.

The absence of orange is said to predict a harsh winter, while a large orange band is telling of a mild winter ahead.  This prediction method may work in the sense that the caterpillars will be forced to hibernate if the temperature drops.  The sooner they are forced into hibernation, more early instar stages will be observed in the wild (more black, less orange); the sooner the temperature drops, the more likely it may be a harsh winter.


Bug of the Day

Well, it was close for a bit there, but CATERPILLAR ended up winning the “larva vs. adult” BotD battle. So here is an odd find (for me, anyway) - found this woolly bear caterpillar (Isabella tiger moth, Pyrrharctia isabella) chowing down on the underside of an old milkweed leaf the other night. Those annoying oleander aphids were all over the leaf, and you can see one on the cat as well.

I found this cutie munching in my front yard.
Isabella Tiger Moth caterpillar I think -Pyrrharctia isabella.

If you’ve never heard of the Woolly Worm Festival, you should look at this page because it is just about the cutest thing in history.

An excerpt:
“…since 1978, the residents of the village nestled between the Carolina’s largest ski resorts have celebrated the coming of the snow season with a Woolly Worm Festival. They set aside the third weekend in October to determine which one worm will have the honor of predicting the severity of the coming winter; and they make that worm earn the honor by winning heat after heat of hard-fought races – up a three-foot length of string.”

Happy fall!

You know all those woolly-bear caterpillars that wander around in fall? This is what they aspire to be!* This is an Isabella Tiger Moth, Pyrrharctia isabella and they are large and handsome and beautifully saffron colored.

*Some of them, anyhow. In this neck of the woods.

Bug of the Day

A nice woolly bear caterpillar (Isabella Tiger Moth, Pyrrharctia isabella) that I found on my porch screen last week. People used to use the size of the brown stripe of a woolly bear caterpillar to predict the weather each winter, with a smaller brown stripe meaning a long, nasty winter. If that were true, last year’s woolly bear caterpillars would have all been completely black :-).

Update: Wow. @thesouthpawshuffle just pointed me to The Woolly Worm Festival held in North Carolina every year: